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Allowed To Visit, Finally

It was a dream come true for a nonagenarian Indian lady, who recently crossed the barbed wire fence to step into her ancestral home in Pakistan from India, after 75 years. Reena Verma returned to her native place for the first time since the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent (in 1947).

Verma’s ancestral home in Rawalpindi (Courtesy: Reuters)

In the last 75 years, the old lady has made several attempts to visit her ancestral home in Rawalpindi, the Garrison city of Pakistan. However, the Government of India had refused to allow Verma to visit Pakistan, in the past. Still, she did not give up. Instead, she had requested both India and Pakistan to relax the strict visa regulations in order to help her visit the ancestral home. Pakistan approved her visa application in the second week of July 2022.

Her Pakistani neighbours greet Reena Verma

The 92-year-old Verma fell in tears after entering her home in Rawalpindi on July 20. Verma, who is in Pakistan on a three-month visit visa, received a rousing welcome as her decades-old neighbours greeted her by showering rose petals. The Indian lady also danced to the beats of the drum. Verma recalled that she was just 14 at the time of Partition, and her family shifted to western Indian city of Pune from Rawalpindi before the birth of Pakistan. Since then, Verma has not visited her ancestral home in Prem Niwas Mahalla, situated on DAV College Road in Rawalpindi. Upon her arrival in Rawalpindi, she said: “I did not even imagine that I would ever come back here in life. Our culture is one. We are the same people. We all want to meet each other. A local person found me and sponsored a visa after which I reached Rawalpindi through the Wagah border.

Verma inside her ancestral home (Courtesy: Reuters)

Verma thanked her neighbours for giving her a warm welcome, stressing: “People living on both sides of the border love each other very much and we should remain as one.” Sitting on the balcony of the house, she recalled that she used to stand on this balcony and hum the tunes of songs she used to hear, stating that the memories of the house were tangible to her. “I can still see myself here today,” she added. Verma also said that the neighbours, living there at that period of time, were very nice. “When someone got married, all the children of the street, including me, used to run and there was happiness everywhere. Now, once again, the heart wishes to remove the hatred between Pakistan and India, and start living together again,” stressed Verma.

Verma on the balcony (Courtesy: Reuters)

Verma is of the opinion that the wound of Partition has not healed, as yet. “Everyone was sad at that time when we left. Neighbours were considered members of the household and we would visit everyone’s house,” she stated. She further expressed hope that the Governments of Pakistan and India would allow her to visit Rawalpindi again in future.

Watch: Verma returns to Rawalpindi

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